Individual Feldenkrais Method lessons for children with special needs
As a Feldenkrais practitioner, my work with children and adults is founded on principles of neural plasticity. The work of the Feldenkrais Method involves creating new movement and perceptual possibilities, and therefore new neural pathways, no matter what a child’s current abilities are. These can form the basis from which new behaviours can develop.
The goal of the Feldenkrais Method, developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1900-1984), is to support ongoing incremental improvement in everything that we do: “To make the impossible possible, to make what’s possible easy, and to make what’s easy graceful.”
His method in itself has proven extremely powerful and practitioners worldwide work with all humanity. This method lies at the core of the Anat Baniel Method, the Jeremy Krauss Approach and Chava Chelav’s Child’Space Method, all of which have refined Dr. Feldenkrais’ method in order to specialise in helping children with special needs.
What happens in a lesson?
I first search for what arouses a child’s attention and interest, in order to connect with them so that they engage in the process with me – the method is not something I do to your child but with them.
I then gently explore what they can already do since this will be the base upon which we can build new possibilities – your child is never forced to do anything that they can’t do.
Instead, I introduce new movement possibilities by creating new variations of what they can already do – this is where learning happens.
As the variations become increasingly complex, the child’s abilities develop and improve.
Finally, I show them how they can use these new possibilities to be able to do what they want to do in their lives – to support your child to better express themselves and act in the world.
Creating the conditions for learning
These are what I call the conditions for learning. This increases the likelihood that they will spontaneously use what is learned in the lessons in their lives, since its usefulness becomes obvious to them.
For example: I may begin by working simply on the act of extending an arm looking for the easiest pathway; I would then introduce variations such as reaching at different angles or in different relationships to gravity; then we might explore reaching for something like a favourite toy; and this might unfold into how reaching for the toy begins to change child the child’s position or how the reaching could help with an activity like dressing.
This way of working supports the new neural connections to fire together repeatedly, which in turn allows these new connections to become wired into the brain. By learning increasingly complex variations of movement abilities in relation to intentions and motivations, the child is then empowered to continue to learn within the context of their daily life.
I also focus on partnering with and empowering parents, caregivers and other educators or therapists so that everyone involved learns to adapt their own actions and behaviours to best support a child’s learning and development.
Brief biography for parents landing on this page
I have nearly 30 years experience of working with the Feldenkrais Method which I continue to find profoundly transformational, both in my own personal life and as a professional movement educator, researcher and artist.
I trained initially as a dancer and still teach in the field of dance for professionals – for example, I teach regularly at Scenekunstskole in Copenhagen. However, I also have extensive experience working with a wide range of people including children with special needs, physiotherapists, psychotherapists, doctors, office workers, actors, designers and architects, as well as organising workshops for the general public under the name of BodySchool.
The Feldenkrais Method, in which I graduated as a practitioner in 2005, offers me a pedagogical framework within which I am able to share with others all the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years. As part of my ongoing professional development, I am currently participating in the Advanced Training for Feldenkrais Practitioners with Theory and Techniques from Anat Baniel Method (sm) for Children taught by Nancy Aberle.
In working with both adults and children, I also draw from a range of related disciplines, including in-depth studies of experiential movement and developmental movement (Body Mind Centering), Traditional Chinese Medicine in connection with developmental movement and nutrition, and a range of body-centered (somatic) dance and movement practices that, like the Feldenkrais Method, foreground the self-organisational intelligence of the body.
I came to specialise in these fields because as a child I had many problems with my body though I always loved to move. My legs were in painful braces from 3-5 years old and at 14, after a series of injuries sustained while playing various sports, I was advised by doctors to avoid moving much.
In my early twenties and suffering crippling back pain, I was encouraged by an osteopath first to swim, and then to take up a sport again. Long story short, I have spent the rest if my life studying, practising and teaching movement and dance.
In working with children with special needs, I am especially concerned to create the kind of trauma-free and pain-free learning experiences, through gentle non-invasive touch and guided movements, that I would have wished for myself as a child.